I believe that we are at the cusp of a transformative revolution in the impact of IT in education. The future impact of IT will most likely far outweigh the impact observed over the last 30 years since the PC first entered the school gates.
Sadly, I believe many schools will ‘miss the boat’ and face significant challenges as they are increasing sidelined with reducing enrolments, as parents and students vote with their feet.
While Information Technology (IT) or Information Communication Technologies (ICT) may already be very much a part of the fabric of many schools, its impact has generally been as an add-on, as a supportive and even marketable feature, not as a foundational game changer.
There are many reasons while the world of IT is now ready to transform education.
Coupled with the transformative tidal wave that has begun to sweep across the educational landscape, is the mindset, and administrative structures of educational institutions that are unprepared for this ‘sea change’.
For example, ‘Risk Aversion’ practices, as opposed to ‘Risk Management’ practices, have a significant detrimental impact on the uptake of learning technologies in many schools. The evidence is that it is a common practice for schools to use a Risk Aversion approach when considering IT and IT related issues. This has most certainly had a negative impact within the classroom both on the students as well as the teachers.
In evaluating the role and potential of IT within the life of a school, I believe IT is best viewed as a single entity. Such a view facilitates strategic assessment and evaluation, future planning, ease of use as well as properly consolidating its status.
When considered as a single entity for the purposes of strategic planning and organizational management, I believe that the potential for the effective resolution of many of the existing impediments to enable full and efficient use of IT can be more readily recognized, addressed and overcome.
The effective use of IT can radically enhance the competitive capability of any organisation.
While IT may appear pervasive to the cursory viewer across the organisational and curriculum structures of the typical school today, I believe that in most schools, there is a significant number of factors impending the effective use of IT and limiting it’s competitive capability, as well as limiting it’s pedagogical impact.
I would suggest then that the creation of a senior role, especially within secondary schools, such as Deputy Principal - IT could help create the cohesive leadership, direction and management needed to effectively maximise the integration of IT into the life and future viability of schools.
Among the important objectives of such IT leadership would be:
1. Further effective development of an ongoing, relevant IT strategic direction and plan;
2. Providing strategic leadership and support in implementing IT into and across the curriculum;
3. Exploring new digital teaching technologies and staff professional development with a view to enhancing the school’s learning environment;
4. Providing strategic leadership and support in more effectively integrating IT into the administrative and operational aspects of the school;
All of these primary objectives require significant input from pedagogical experts in the implementation and utilisation of IT’s in the curriculum, and especially at the production end-point of the process, that is, within secondary school in particular, expertise and experience with Year 11 & 12 students and curricula.
I would argue that the people with the best understanding of all the relevant issues, including the significant inhibitors to the successful integration and adoption of best practices in the use of learning technologies, (such as the ‘Risk Aversion’ approach) are teachers of IT subjects at the senior years of schooling.
Any school seriously wishing to weather the transformational change that has only really just begun needs to look at how to engage with the digital revolution and use technology to underwrite this engagement.
Some of the most significant trends driving this transformational change are:
I believe there is a ‘tsunami’ of change here that is beginning to impact the educational sector generally. Envisioning some of the more significant aspects of this ‘tsunami', we could see a future where:
There are also though some significant challenges including:
There are also some crucial strategies that need to be adopted for the successful progress in this new world of IT convergence. Among them are the following:
A Leading Question:
Are schools ready to embrace and be transformed by the move to the Cloud; Mobile Apps with Tablet & BYOD interfaces; game-based learning; augmented reality; gesture-based computing; learning analytics; personal learning environments (PLE’s), and the Internet of Things?
If they are then perhaps the role of a CIO or DP-IT may have some merit.
A number of schools both in Queensland and throughout Australia, have begun to move in this direction and establish similar roles. Is your school ready to face the ‘tsunami’ and be transformed?
M.Sc (Physics)., B.Sc., Dip. Tchg., MACS (Snr) CP, Cert IV (TAE40110)
 Research from the UK provides evidence that a key component in encouraging rather than impending innovative use of Web 2.0 technologies is the need for an ongoing conversation to bring all stakeholders to a common understanding of how to balance the complex issues and tensions in schools between cyber-safety concerns and the use of these collaborative teaching and learning tools.
 The Economic Impact of ICT, SMART N. 2007/0020, John Van Reenen, LSE, January 2010
 cloud computing (n): hosted applications and platforms, built on shared infrastructure, delivered via a web browser
 BYOD = Bring Your Own Device
 See for example, Conrad Wolfram’s TED Talk: “Stop Teaching Calculating, Start Teaching Math” -http://blog.wolfram.com/2010/11/23/conrad-wolframs-ted-talk-stop-te... or Dan Meyer’s approach - http://www.ted.com/talks/dan_meyer_math_curriculum_makeover.html
 Note: I am indebted to the Horizons Report - http://www.nmc.org/publications/2012-horizon-report-k12 for much of the core understandings and predicted directions of IT in education presented here.